Florida Man Faces Over 1,000 Counts Of Child Pornography

February 6, 2023 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements, Sex Crimes

There has been a rise in people being charged with possession of child pornography. In recent news, Jonathan Hernandez faces over 1,000 counts of possession of child pornography. Possibly the largest child pornography bust in Florida’s history.

The blog below will cover the story of Jonathan Hernandez, his charges, and possible defenses for child pornography.

How One Man Currently Faces 1,000 Counts of Child Pornography

Earlier this month, Florida deputies arrested Jonathan Hernandez for possessing child porn. Hernandez faces more than 1,180 counts of child pornography. The Highlands Sheriff’s office first started to investigate this case when they received a tip from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. The sheriff’s office filled and executed a search warrant against Hernandez. Detectives found images of child porn on Hernandez’s Discord account, a social media platform that allows users to message each other and create communities.

Hernandez was arrested last year in December, and his house was searched on January 15th. When Hernandez was arrested in December, he was originally charged with two counts of possession of child pornography, two counts of transmitting child pornography, and one count of using a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony.

Detectives collected 15 electronic devices from Hernandez’s home. From one device alone detectives said that they have enough evidence to charge Hernandez with over 1,000 counts of child pornography. Highlands Sheriff’s Office said, “Hernandez’s collection of child porn is the largest they have ever seen.” Hernandez’s case could be the biggest child pornography bust that Florida has ever seen. In addition to the charges of child pornography, Hernandez was charged with possession of bestiality images.

Possession of Child Porn

Child pornography is criminalized under Florida Statute Section 827.071. Under Florida law, child pornography means any image depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct. This definition includes images that have been created, altered, adapted, or modified to portray an identifiable minor engaged in sexual conduct.

An act can qualify as sexual conduct in the following ways:

  • actual or simulated sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality, masturbation, or sadomasochistic abuse; or
  • actual or simulated lewd exhibition of general; actual physical contact with a person’s clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or, if such person is a female, breast, with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of either party; or
  • any act or conduct which constitutes sexual battery or simulates that sexual battery is being or will be committed.

Identifiable minor means that the image shows a person who was a minor at the time the image was created altered, adapted, or modified.

Possession of child pornography has three elements that the prosecutors will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • Defendant knowingly possessed a photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, representation, image, date, computer depiction, or presentation.
  • The photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, representation, image, date, computer depiction, or presentation, included in whole or in part, child pornography.
  • Defendant knew that the photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, representation, image, date, computer depiction, or presentation included child pornography.

Possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies can result in a $5,000 fine and up to five years imprisonment.

Under Florida law, the charges may be recategorized and enhanced in the following instances.

  • The defendant possesses 10 or more images of child pornography; and
  • The content of at least one image contains one or more of the following:
    • A child who is younger than 5
    • Sadomasochistic abuse involving a child
    • Sexual battery involving a child
    • Sexual bestiality involving a child
    • Any motion picture, film, or video involving a child regardless of length

If child pornography qualifies for recategorization, then the charges are raised from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony can result in a fine of up to $10,000 and fifteen years imprisonment.

To learn more about child pornography charges in Florida, read our blog here

Possession of Bestiality Images

Hernandez was also charged with possession of Bestiality images, which is a new law that went into effect in October 2022. Florida Statute Section 828.126(2)(e) states that it is unlawful to knowingly possess any pornographic images or video of a person and an animal engaged in sexual contact with an animal.

The law defines sexual contact with an animal as any act committed between a person and an animal for the purpose of sexual gratification, abuse, or financial gain which involves one of the following:

  • Contact between the sex organ or anus of one and the mouth, sex organ, or anus of the other; or
  • The fondling of the sex organ or anus of an animal; or
  • The insertion, however slight, of any part of the body of a person or object into the vaginal or anal opening of an animal.

Stacking Charges

How does one man end up with over 1,000 counts of child porn? Each separate image of child pornography is charged as a separate crime. Additionally under Florida Statute Section 827.071, if the image depicts more than one child, then the accused is charged separately for each child in the photo. For example, if the defendant possessed 25 different images of child pornography, then the defendant can be charged with 25 separate counts of child pornography.

After a defendant is convicted, the judge has the authority to sentence the defendant consecutively or concurrently for the counts. Consecutively means that the defendant will serve time for one offense at a time. For example, if a defendant is convicted of 5 counts of possession of child pornography, then that defendant could face a maximum of 25 years imprisonment. Five years for each count. If sentenced to the counts concurrently, meaning the defendant would serve all the counts at the same time, then the maximum possible sentence would be five years for five counts of possession of child pornography.

Defenses to Child Porn

It is imperative to have quality legal defense in child pornography cases to determine all the defenses and strategies that are available in your case. A few common defenses to child pornography are:

  • The alleged minor in the pornographic material was actually 18 years old.
  • Another individual was responsible for downloading or accessing pornographic material because of shared computer access, breach of password, or absence of password.
  • Computer viruses caused the download of pornographic material.
  • The electronic device that the pornographic material belongs to another party.
  • Entrapment: Entrapment is available as a defense when law enforcement used coercion, persuasion, or other harassment to cause the person to commit the crime.
  • Illegal search and seizure
  • Lack of intent to download or otherwise obtain pornographic material.

In addition to these defenses, a digital evidence expert is a key witness in attacking the credibility of the evidence. A digital expert will analyze the devices collected by investigators. The digital expert may be able to testify to the presence of a virus on the computer that resulted in the download of pornographic material. The digital expert may also be able to testify about whether the material was downloaded purposefully or not.

The software that law enforcement uses to catch child porn is not infallible. In a recent blog, we covered a defense digital expert who testified that after a close examination of the defendant’s computer, the child porn was not on the computer and there was no record of the child porn on the computer at all.

Find a Child Pornography Lawyer in Tallahassee

If you are under investigation for or have been charged with any kind of criminal offense involving child porn, you should not delay in getting legal representation. Pumphrey Law works tirelessly to keep these types of criminal charges out of federal court and ultimately get them reduced or completely dismissed.

Don Pumphrey and his team have years of experience working with Florida citizens accused of various criminal offenses. Call (850) 681-7777  or leave an online message for a free consultation today.

Written by Melissa MacNicol

Back to Top